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10 Facts About the Purple Heart

The Purple Heart is an award given to those who have made the most extreme sacrifices while serving their country, those who were wounded or killed in action - we remember these heroes every year on Purple Heart Day. 

 

Here are 10 facts about the Purple Heart:

1. The Purple Heart is the oldest military award that is still awarded today.

The Purple Heart, in its original incarnation as "The Badge of Military Merit" was first awarded in 1782 to three Revolutionary War soldiers by George Washington himself. The badge then disappeared for some time and was not officially established again until 1932.

2. Over 1 million Purple Hearts were manufactured in anticipation of the Allied Invasion of Japan.

In the closing chapters of World War 2, as the U.S. was preparing for a land invasion of Japan, the projected casualties were so great that over a million Purple Hearts were manufactured in advance.

3. Purple Hearts are one of the few military awards that persons are entitled to, rather than recommended for.

Contrary to other military awards which are recommended to soldiers by military superiors, soldiers automatically qualify for a Purple Heart if they meet the sufficient appropriate criteria of being wounded or killed while serving under competent authority with the U.S. Armed Forces.

4. Some military animals have been awarded the Purple Heart.

While not common, some animals have been awarded the Purple Heart as a result of their military service, one example being Sergeant Reckless, a pack horse who saw combat during the Korean War.



5. Not all war deaths or wounds qualify for the Purple Heart.

In order to qualify for the Purple Heart, the awardee must generally have been wounded or killed as a result of enemy action while in combat. Some examples of wounds that do not count towards a Purple Heart are environmental wounds such as frostbite and heat stroke and disease.

6. The shield design found on the medal is the coat of arms of George Washington.

The American flag was also rumored to be based upon the design of Washington's coat of arms.

7. Purple Hearts may be requested retroactively going back to 1917.

Despite the fact that the Purple Heart did not become an official military award until 1932, Purple Hearts may be requested and rewarded retroactively for soldiers going back to World War I. 

8. Many well known public officials have received the Purple Heart.

Including: John Kerry, Dan Crenshaw, John F. Kennedy and John McCain.

     

9. The most Purple Hearts awarded to one person is 10.

Three veterans have been awarded a total of 10 Purple Hearts: Charles D. Barger (World War I), William G. White (World War II, The Korean War) and Curry T. Haynes (The Vietnam War).

10. Over 1 million Purple Hearts were awarded during World War II

As the bloodiest conflict in human history, World War II resulted in the most Purple Hearts awarded. 

 

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